A record hot summer in normally cool northern climes contributing to major Arctic melt


NOAA today confirmed that July 2019 was the hottest month on record globally, according to their monthly Global Climate Report.

The heat is mostly responsible for record ice melt in parts of the Arctic and Antarctic.

NOAA reported global temperatures averaged 62.13 degrees Fahrenheit in July, which is 1.71 degrees higher than the long-term 20th century average, surpassing July 2016 by merely .05 degree, according to U.S. government scientists.

Record heat in July was reported in parts of North America, southern Asia, southern Africa, and portions of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Five of the warmest Julys have occurred in the past five years, and nine out of 10 since 2005. June was hottest on record globally, too. The last 415 months have all been above normal, based on NASA and NOAA data back to 1880.

Alaska was particularly warm, averaging 5.4 degrees above above average. The mean July temperature of 58.1 degrees topped the previous warmest month by 0.8 degree (2004), according to NOAA. The state’s wildfire season commenced in April.

Sea ice all but disappeared along the northern and northwestern coastline, establishing a record for lowest extent (Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado). Fish in the Bering Sea contended with unusual warmth.

Female walruses had less ice to relax and ended up along the shoreline near Nome by the thousands on July 30. Marine ecosystems that depend on deep cold salty water in the southeastern Bering Sea have been affected by the shrinking cold pool. On land, the growing season is a month longer, and some crops were harvested much earlier than usual.

Arctic sea ice diminished to 2.9 million square miles, 30,900 square miles less than the 2012 record for the end of July.

A sweltering summer pattern in Europe contributed to the warmest June on record globally. France endured its highest temperature on record (114.6 degrees at Gallargues-le-Montueux), and monthly marks melted from German, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria to the Mediterranean.

An extraordinary European July heatwave sent readings soaring to a record 108.7 degrees in Paris on July 25 and 108.7 degrees at Lingin, Germany.

All-time heat records were established on July 25 in the United Kingdom (Cambridge, Botanic Garden, 101.7), Luxembourg (Stenisel, 105.4), the Netherlands (Gilze en Rijen, 105.3 ), and Belgium (Begijnendijk, 107.2 degrees).

A blocking pattern in the atmosphere this summer pumped heat from the Sahara Desert into Western Europe. A Rex Block formed, with strong high pressure over Greenland situated north of low pressure over the North Atlantic, funneling extreme heat north into Scandanavia and Greenland.

About 90 percent of the Greenland ice sheet experienced melt over a five-day period (July 30 – August 3) estimated at 55 billion tons, according to surface data compiled by the National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC). The melt area in July 2019 totaled 154,000 square miles.

The total amount of ice lost from melt runoff in Greenland this summer exceeds 250 billion tons, including light winter snowfall, rivaling the historic melt inf July 0 August 2012.

The Arctic has not fared well, either, with sea ice surrounding Alaska confined to areas more than 150 miles from the shore, based on high-resolution sea ice analysis prepared by the National Weather Service (NWS).

Alaska experienced its hottest month ever in July, when the mercury soared to 90 degrees in Anchorage, toppling the previous all-time mark by five degrees.

The warming is enhanced by the ocean, which is losing reflective sea ice, allowing darker water to absorb more solar heat. Mixing expands the warming process.

Ocean heat waves are also harming marine ecosystems. Oceans have taken in more than 90 percent of the warmth trapped by greenhouse gases since the middle of the 20th century, mostly from the burning of fossil fuels for energy (coal, oil and natural gas).

The loss of coral reefs, kelp forests and sea grasses that provide sustenance and shelter for diverse aquatic life poses the greatest threat to marine ecosystems. Species are surviving on the warm edge of their possible habitat.

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